Walmart acquires Zeekit, a digital altering room firm
Walmart announced Thursday that it will adopt the virtual dressing room start-up Zeekit as it takes a step into fashion and serves customers shopping for clothes online.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The retailer declined to be interviewed, referring to the dormant period before releasing its first quarter results on Tuesday.
In a post on the company’s website, Denise Incandela, executive vice president of apparel and private labels at Walmart US, stated that customers can use the feature to try on items from Walmart’s private labels and their national brands such as Free People, Champion and Levi Strauss .
When the technology is released on the Walmart website, customers will be able to upload photos of themselves or choose from different models that represent their size, shape and skin tone. The technology will show how the clothes fit and resemble the experience they had in a store. You can also enlist the help of a friend in making a purchase decision by sharing the virtual outfit and getting an opinion.
With the acquisition of the start-up, Walmart hopes to improve the customer experience and make online shopping more social, Incandela said.
“Virtual try-on changes the game and solves what has been the most difficult thing to replicate online in the past – understanding the fit and actual appearance of an item for you,” she said on the website post. “Zeekit will help us deliver a complete, comprehensive, and personalized experience to our diverse customer base.”
Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, but it’s better known for selling groceries, simple T-shirts, and household items than it is for fashionable clothing.
However, over the years the company has tried to raise its profile by buying clothing companies with the following followers, including men’s fashion retailer Bonobos, women’s brand ModCloth, and plus-size brand Eloquii. It has launched its own retail brands, including Sofia Jeans, which were developed with actress Sofia Vergara and Free Assembly, a men’s and women’s clothing brand designed by Bonobos’ former chief creative officer. And it signed a deal with fashion resale website ThredUp to gently sell used fashion clothes and accessories – a way to get more high-end brands on the Walmart website for a wallet-friendly price.
With the expansion, competitors like Amazon, the top apparel seller in the United States, were targeted
Amazon surpassed Walmart to earn this title and now accounts for around 11% to 12% of all apparel sold in the U.S. and 34% to 35% of all apparel sold online, according to a Wells Fargo estimate in mid-March. Walmart is the second largest apparel seller in the country, with estimated total sales of $ 33.43 billion in apparel and footwear in 2020 versus $ 41.15 billion on Amazon, according to Wells Fargo.
It has also taken over a side from Target, which has become known for building exclusive brands in fashion and other merchandise. After selling most of its private label clothing online, Walmart is adding more displays to hundreds of stores, including mannequins.
Walmart’s clothing lines include a mix of brands – some consist mostly of budget basics like Time and Tru and George, and four it thinks are more upscale: Sofia Jeans, Scoop, Free Assembly, and Eloquii Elements.
Walmart cited fashion designer Brandon Maxwell, who designed dresses for Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, to oversee Scoop and Free Assembly.
However, some of Walmart’s efforts have failed. It sold ModCloth just two years after taking over the company. An online flagship store was opened with Lord & Taylor, the department store that later went bankrupt.
Zeekit is a women-based start-up based in Tel Aviv, Israel. The team and three founders, CEO Yael Vizel, Chief Technology Officer Alon Kristal and Vice President Research and Development Nir Appleboim, will join Walmart under the contract.
Incandela said the company will also bring expertise in real-time imaging technologies, computer vision and artificial intelligence that it can leverage to other parts of the Walmart fashion business.